SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Pregnant Moms Over 40: Safety Concerns

Whether you want that last child or are planning your first, many women are now waiting longer to have children. Most women go to college, do some alone time, meet the right guy after countless wrong ones, and then want to have some fun before adding babies and parenting to the mix. Once you realize your biological ticker is in over drive, you might not have as easy of a time getting your baby bundle. It can take longer to conceive the older you get, so donít get discouraged. Once you have gotten that positive test, what can you expect or possibly face?

Many women over forty can have normal healthy pregnancies with no complications at all. More than likely you will be given a high-risk status just in case and a battery of tests that are optional for younger women. Not all women have that experience and want to know what they are facing when having children at this time. At this point you only have about 10,000 to 5,000 eggs left. Many eggs that are left are defective genetically and have higher risk of not implanting, causing miscarriage, or rendering a child with genetic issues or impairments. This will increase if the father is over 40 as well, so be educated in the possible syndromes and disabilities associated to age. Even if you have a perfectly healthy baby, you are still at higher risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean section. So know what your options are and be careful to follow your doctorís advice while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Here are some common issues that can arise:

  • Medical illnesses affecting the mother and fetus
  • Genetic abnormalities and birth defects
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Complications of labor and delivery

As age increases beyond age 35, so does each of these risks

  • Maternal and child illnesses
  • Pregnancy loss

As you get older, you have higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. These are already common in all age groups, but the older you are, the more likely you will deal with one of them before you give birth to a healthy baby. Over 50 % of all miscarriages occur during the first trimester and are due to genetic defects. Older moms have a higher risk than most women of other age groups for these types of difficulties. Stillbirth rates also increase, as do medical complications and lethal birth defects. Be sure to be monitored closely to make sure all development is good. Eat right, exercise as your doctor suggests, and get plenty of rest. Genetic amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling is offered to women after the age of 35. Amniocentesis, usually done in the third or fourth month of pregnancy, involves removing amniotic fluid from the sac for genetic testing. There is a minimal (0.5%) risk of miscarriage associated with this test. This risk is outweighed however by the slightly larger risk of having an undetected abnormality. Chorionic villus sampling can also be done earlier in pregnancy. This involves the removal of a tiny amount of placental tissue, which can then be tested for genetic abnormalities. Discuss the risks and benefits of these tests with your doctor early on so that you will have enough time to make an informed decision that is best for you.

Complications of labor and delivery:

  • premature delivery
  • cesarean birth
  • premature separation of the placenta resulting in hemorrhage
  • Placenta previa
  • Meconium-stained amniotic fluid
  • postpartum hemorrhage
  • Malpresentations (breech or other positions other than head down)

Lowering the risks

Lowering your risks to many of these seemingly unavoidable issues can be accomplished. See your doctor the minute you decide to try to have a baby. After you conceive, have tests done to check for a healthy uterus and ovaries. Also, have your partnerís sperm checked to make sure the majority of them are normal and not genetically flawed. If you have to undergo IVF, make sure the doctor screens each embryo for genetic defects so that they only place healthy ones in your womb. Once you are pregnant, make sure you see your doctor as scheduled. Early prenatal care and good health habits will result in a healthy baby and a happy mother. The idea is to be as healthy as you can prior to conception. This includes:

  • Quit smoking if you do
  • Stop drinking, alcohol can increase the risk of certain birth defects
  • No more caffeine, even moderate caffeine intake may increase your risk of miscarriage.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and protein
  • Take prenatal vitamins while trying to get pregnant to make sure you are full of everything you need for you and baby
  • Exercise regularly and moderately to improve your over-all health
  • Have genetic testing done if you think you are at risk or have had several miscarriages.

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